Leading the way in renewable energy old

View across the lake to Blickling Hall

The Blickling Estate is part of our £30m programme to invest in renewable energy schemes to cut carbon and fuel bills. This supports the National Trust's commitment to cutting energy use by 20% by 2020.

We're installing a water-source heat pump in the lake to replace the current oil-fired system.  Pipes will run into the lake to extract heat from the water which will warm the house and and the west wing offices.

Water, water, everywhere...

Sited as it is in a hollow, Blickling has always had an abundance of water. Before the current house was constructed in around 1620, a stream running across the site had to be diverted.

Despite this, the basement was plagued with flooding, a potent combination of rainwater and sewage, with the servants having to walk on raised wooden boards to prevent wet feet. In an attempt to solve this, Victorian architect Maurice B Adams recognised that the water could be "a useful friend, instead of allowing it to remain a serious enemy".

He designed a weir drain, sump and waterwheel in around 1894, to pump out sewage and excess water.

Restoring the waterwheel

When mains sewerage was installed in the 1990s, Adams' system became redundant, but has now been restored by a team of volunteers. The brick built sump – which holds the equivalent of 240 household water butts - will be fed by a culvert, partly supplied by the rainwater gutters from the east side of the hall. Water will be pumped out using a combination of the original waterwheel and modern day submersible pumps, and used for watering the gardens, including the regenerated walled garden.

This is only part of the history of water engineering at Blickling, which included a water tower on the Mount to supply the hall with fire-fighting water, pumped up using a turbine at the end of the lake.

We're pleased to be continuing the story by making better use of our water this year.


14 Mar 16

Why wasn't the project completed as planned?

The project timings had been worked out with the incorrect information that our original power cabling would be sufficient, so by the time this was found to be incorrect, work had already begun and the lake source heat pump installation well on its way. The project had to be halted whilst all options were investigated and then the best, least disruptive solution sought. This meant that our contractors had to move on to other booked commitments and the project paused until they were able to return. We are now at a stage where it is not feasible to undertake any further works until the new power cable is installed.

Lake source heat pump work at Blickling

21 Mar 16

Will the work affect opening or visiting Blickling?

Laying the new cable will be taking place during our open season, so our Project Manager is making sure that the impact to the visitors and their route around the property is kept to a minimum. She is currently looking into asking for the main works to be carried out before opening times and after closing times, on key visitor routes. Laying cables involves heavy machinery and some noise and disruption will be heard behind the restaurant, shop and east wing reception. However it will be planned in carefully to avoid any events or busy times. Taking all this into consideration and allowing for some extra snagging time, this means the project, should be finished before the summer holidays.

28 Mar 16

Birds sitting on the pipes

There will be no visible trace either in the garden or the lake once the project is completed. The pipes will naturally sink to the bottom of the lake when the heat pumps are turned on and the glycol circulating through the pipes starts to gather the ambient temperature from the lake water. If by any chance there are still pipes visible, they will be weighted down to permanently submerge them. The garden team will be carrying out their magic by re-seeding and re-turfing, making the areas that have been excavated look as beautiful and untouched as they did before.